Title:
’We Have Become Niggers!’: Josephine Baker as a Threat to Viennese Culture
Author:
Roman Horak: University of Applied Arts Vienna, Austria
DOI:
10.3384/cu.2000.1525.135515
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Full article (pdf)
Year:
2013
Volume:
5
Theme:
Theme: Pursuing the Trivial Edited by Roman Horak, Barabara Maly, Eva Schörgenhuber & Monika Seidl

Pages:
515-530
No. of pages:
16
Publication type:
Article
Published:
2013-12-12


Early 1928 Josephine Baker, by that time a famous dancer and singer, came to Vienna to be part of a vaudeville show. Even before her arrival the waves went high – her possible presence in Vienna caused a major uproar there. Various commentators constructed an image of Baker that was based on the assumption that she was seriously attacked on the values of traditional European culture and, furthermore, true Viennese culture.

In my essay, where I address the Viennese Negerskandal more directly, I explore the various discourses that produced this ‘event’ along the interface of mass culture/avant-garde and high/low culture. It is evident that these events centre on a construction of ‘blackness’ and of ‘black cultural expression’; it goes without saying that racism and sexism play a central role.

I will, however, try to contextualize the ‘nigger scandal’ in a broader setting: against the background of Vienna in the late 1920s the perceived threat of ‘Americanisation’ will be discussed.
Keywords: Blackness; Viennese culture; racism; Josephine Baker; Americanisation

Volume 5, Theme:: Theme: Pursuing the Trivial Edited by Roman Horak, Barabara Maly, Eva Schörgenhuber & Monika Seidl

, Article 30, 2013

Author:
Roman Horak
Title:
’We Have Become Niggers!’: Josephine Baker as a Threat to Viennese Culture:
DOI:
10.3384/cu.2000.1525.135515
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